Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unattested Handicap Round Blues

photo by byronv2 on flickr

Once upon a time the United States Golf Association held a secret magic formula. Taking a person's last twenty scores and, after trimming down any catastrophe holes, throwing out the bad outlier rounds, and factoring in the difficulty of the courses played, the formula would spit out a number that, better than any other single metric, reflects that person's current ability to play golf. Far from a scoring average, it's a more nuanced data point that manages to reflect the hard reality of What's Going On on the course lately, while also providing some approximation of your so-called potential--a prickly concept to try and measure mathematically if ever there was. Yet somehow golf handicapping actually works.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Welcome to Winter '16

Okay, so I'm spazzing out prematurely. But I've been waiting so hard for this. Meteorologically speaking it is not actual winter yet. And it's been weirdly warm for the last couple of months. But, today it feels like actual winter--around 45 degrees with some wind chill. And so at last I'm actually looking forward to getting out on the course and chasing one ball around, after months of mostly whacking striped balls out into a meaningless void with no regard for consequences.

Packing a vacuum flask filled with piping hot tea gives me an enormous sense of well-being.

When the mercury dips below a certain level, I feel like the world of ghetto golf is my oyster. I can rove the fairways with little danger of my mellow getting harshed. On a day like this even Dyker becomes a safe zone.

Tons of leaves everywhere make golf a perilous sport. Who cares? I'm flying through an open course.

This was maybe the craziest round of an uneventful year. It was just so eventful. So much crazy stuff happened good and bad. I managed to hook a 9-iron clear around a big tree and on to the green. God is Great. Then on the next hole I shanked the most basic of sand wedge chips sideways into a bunker. Despair. All is futile.

Then two holes later I had a blind shot off a sandy lie to a short-sided pin. How did I even end up here? By flaring a high, weak 5-iron into the wind. Christ. Par would require a miracle shot. But I holed it for birdie. It is officially on.

I did things today to a golf ball that I've never done before. Needing to launch one over a tall tree-line I picked a 4-iron, said "What the hell?" and sent it straight up into the sky. I thinned a wedge off a bare lie with a full swing, and watched in confusion as it stuck the landing and spun back towards the hole. I pounded a driver with a solidness and squareness never experienced before. The deepest mysteries of the golf swing tend to reveal themselves on the course more than they do on the range, especially on a day like this. I think I might've got a glimpse at a Universal Truth of Golf. Wish I could describe it for you.

Disturbingly big group of beginners gathered at the first tee. Whatever it is they are up to, I don't want to know.

For it being forty-something degrees it was still kind of a nice day, and so there were a few people scattered on the course. When I eventually butted up against a foursome on the 13th tee, I sped over to the 15th tee, played 15 and 16, then played 13 and 14 and then zipped over to the 16th tee, well ahead of the group. Pffft. Crisis averted. A clever, impromptu rerouting made possible by a gas engine, a deep familiarity with the course's layout, and some can-do attitude.

I'm still marveling at some of the stuff that went down over the last couple holes. It was so much fun that once I saw the front nine empty, I jumped right back in and finished it off speed-golf style, in under an hour. There was daylight to spare and in these sun-deprived times, you've got to get it while you can.

After months of trying to avoid Dyker, and all places like it, it's good to be back in the fold. Damnit, it's like I never left.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Roadgolf: Mansion Ridge GC, Monroe NY

Jack Nicklaus. The man. Legend. What do you need, an introduction? For any of you snots out there reading this, Jack Nicklaus was like, the Jordan Spieth of his time. Actually he was like the Jordan and the Jason Day, rolled into one.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ghettogolf: Mosholu GC, the Bronx

There are three 18-hole courses in the Bronx, and all are well known by city golfers. But nestled deep inside the borough there's actually another course, a well-kept secret. It's the only nine-holer in the city and the most-easily overlooked node in the whole NYC golf network.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

WTF, continued

A whole calendar month had passed, so I finally broke the spell and slogged on over to Silver Lake. Mentally I'm still on a moratorium, but a month sure is a long time to abstain from anything. Plus it's an unseasonably cold day, so maybe there won't be hordes of golfers on the course this time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

WTF Is Going On, Fall Golf Moratorium edition

What the hell has happened here? Last time I set foot on a golf course was on my birthday, NEARLY ONE FULL MONTH AGO.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Local Golf News: Some Kid Wins 2015 Brooklyn Open

"Westchester Golfer Wins Brooklyn Open"
The third edition of the Brooklyn Open went down last Saturday. Unfortunately at the time of registration I came down with a serious case of the blahs and was therefore unable to muster an acceptable number of shits to give. In my absence though, the tournament directors decided to press on and hold the tournament anyways. It was the right thing to do.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Farewell to Summer

For the first couple decades of life, summer is the best season hands down. A time of liberation--liberation from the tyranny of academia, as well as the shackles of long-sleeves and pants. Summer is the time to gorge on sleep, and Vitamin D, watermelon and iced tea. The time to make big plans to do everything you'd wanted to do during the year but were too bogged down with stupid schoolwork. Then adulthood sets in and summer takes on a different feel. Mostly it's business as usual. But still, we cling to that euphoria, if only by habit.

As a golfer however, I've come to realize that summer is actually the darkest time of the year, emotionally. Summer is all about sweat; damp, sticky gloves; sun stroke headaches, overcrowing, long waits in the hot sun and the absolute dregs of golf course-society. For our cursed kind, it's actually a time to be endured more than enjoyed.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Roadgolf: Tallgrass GC, Shoreham, Long Island NY

It's that time again. Some people celebrate their birthdays with cake. For the last few years I've celebrated with a round of golf at a nice, non-New York City course.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Roadrange: Scoring Zone Golf Range, Monroe NY

The Legitimategolf crew took off for a day of hiking and who knows what else, up in Harriman State Park up in Rockland County, inside of an hour from NYC.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Roadgolf: Freeport Country Club, Freeport, Maine

Time to wrap up this Maine adventure. (Seems like forever, right?) Traveling back to NYC from Brunswick, we figured we might as well make a couple stops along I-95.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Roadrange: Hopkins Golf Center, Brunswick, Maine

We're hanging around Brunswick today, and I am in charge of the dog while Ms. Legit checks out the local art museum.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Roadgolf: Brunswick Golf Club, Brunswick, Maine

Maine is the least population-dense state in the whole eastern part of this country. It is a lot of coastline and open space and not a lot of people. Which translates into tons of lobster for everyone, as well as a good pace of play on the golf course. I'm hoping at least.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Roadrange: Hillcrest Golf Center, Kennebunk, Maine

This summer, the road's taking the Legitimategolf crew to Maine, the official home of Life The Way It Should Be™.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Ghettogolf: Split Rock GC, Bronx NY

Split Rock is one of my earliest golf memories in New York City. It was ten years ago that my old college buddy Chris and I mutually decided that the time had come for us to take up golf.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summertime Blues

While the rest of the world frolics in the summer sun, my golf game exists in a state of hibernation. Actually there's a word for hibernation in the summer: estivation. Whatever. Subsisting on a meager diet of range balls, doled out in sad little portions, I conserve energy and lie in wait for the temperature to drop below 40ºF, at which time I'll come to life again. But just so I don't completely lose touch with the world of organized golf, I will make a grudging visit to a course, kind of like a half-hearted Protestant dragging his ass to church on Easter or Christmas.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ghettogolf: Clearview Park GC, Queens, NY

Clearview Park is among the very last stops on the Legitimategolf New York City Golf Tour (LGNYCGT).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Roadgolf: Patriot Hills Golf Course, Stony Point NY

I have been wandering, exploring the various planes of existence, both high and low. I am adrift in three-dimensional space, searching for a (swing) path that will ultimately lead me home.

It is lonely and desolate out here in space. Carding 18-hole scores is something from a past life. Now, I am an apparition drifting from abstract theory to abstract theory, no golf course to call home.

Recently I got a text from the real world. It was my friend Arnold asking me to play some pre-holiday golf. I said no at first, because I am in the middle of trying to change my perception of the golf swing and probably would represent a hazard to others on a golf course. But he begged and pleaded, so I caved.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ghettogolf Report: Dyker Beach in decline

I finally busted out of my Staten Island rut and made it out to Brooklyn's Dyker Beach, my former spiritual home of golf.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Spectatorgolf: KPMGWGPAC Rounds 3 & 4, Westchester CC, Harrison NY

Ms. L and I attended the third round at Westchester. We followed the final two groups, which included Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, Korean rookie sensation Sei Young Kim and the queen bitch herself, the one and only Inbee Park. (I happened to be in the area Sunday, and happened to have a free ticket, so I couldn't resist going back by myself to watch some of the final round.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spectatorgolf: KPMG Women's PGA Championship (KPMGWPGAC) practice round, Westchester CC, Harrison NY

The LPGA has come to town. It's close by, tickets are cheap, and it's being held at a classic, PGA TOUR caliber course. So not only will I be attending my first LPGA action this weekend, I thought I'd swing by on practice Wednesday to enjoy some of the close-up access I'd heard so much about.

Comfort zone

I know that I pledged to get out and see the golf world at large. I know I made a big stink about needing to get out of Staten Island and spread my wings and sample the various golfing delights the tri-state has to offer.

Monday, June 1, 2015

FIR, Fringe in Regulation

Things are looking up for your old pal. I was half-watching some local tube on the YES (Yankees' Entertainment and Sports) Network the other night and just about had my mind blown out when a commercial for the Silver Lake Golf Course came on. Not just to see my regular course splashed all over the TV screen, but also to find out the course has launched a free shuttle service to and from the ferry terminal.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Roadgolf: Cascades at Crystal Springs, Hamburg NJ

This is our third visit to the Crystal Springs mega-resort complex in northern New Jersey, having played the tranquil Black Bear, and the tricked up Crystal Springs courses.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Roadgolf: Pinch Brook GC, Florham Park NJ

Now that the Break 80 at Silver Lake Challenge is done, it's time to get back to playing golf for the original intended purpose: having fun. I'm kidding around of course. It's always fun. Nevertheless that last round--which lasted almost five hours and had me matched up with not one but TWO separate groups of undesirables--really strained at the boundary between fun and torment. It was like getting an early glimpse into the busy summer season, and I didn't like what I saw.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Break 80 at Silver Lake Challenge episode 3

Let's start calling these things "episodes" rather than attempts, since it's now the busy season and shenanigans are to be expected at this point. Good weather and a favorable start today, as I got sent out alone--again.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Break 80 at Silver Lake Challenge, attempt 2

Kind of a weird start today. First, I noticed these yardage books stacked behind the scorecards in the pro shop. I freaked out at first thinking it was some cool new thing, but I was chagrined to see that it was at least three years old. I've been playing here all this time without knowing the damn thing existed.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Break 80 at Silver Lake Challenge, attempt #1

Now that there's some stakes involved, it's time to get serious. So as I made my way to the course I talked myself into some self-confidence--I am going to do this, today's the day, etc.--while going through a mental checklist of bullet points to support my case. Doing this reminded me of how lackadaisical I've been and that it's been so long since I've properly hyped myself up at the start of a round.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Bogey Express

Well, that didn't last long. After making a brief reconnection with my spiritual golf roots in Brooklyn, the connection fizzled out and I retreated back to Staten Island. Sorry. I know it's been said in the comments that I don't really belong there, and I agreed with it at first, but after some soul searching I have been forced to reconsider.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Scenes From a Rough Spring

Here in the northeast and probably much of North America, The Worst Winter of Our Lifetimes is giving way to The Worst Spring of Our Lifetimes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dyker Dealin' Days

Things are very slowly creeping back towards normal. I'm no longer eyeballing the weather reports with a bug-eyed intensity. We seem to be in the clear as far as any major freezing weather events are concerned; still, I'm not ready to put away my winter jacket just yet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Roadgolf: Sunset Valley GC, Pompton Plains NJ

Hey, it's your old pal. I am still alive, still here, and still participating in golf-- at least as much as the fragile, volatile ecosystem of Earth will allow these days. It's been a long time since Ms. L has played any golf, so we fired up the old rental car, threw a dart at a map of the tri-state area, bundled up and headed out about an hour east to a tiny town called Pompton Plains in rural Sussex County.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winter 2015: S.O.S. (same old shit)

After two months encased in ice, the doorway to golf has finally been opened again. Time to get back out there and see what condition the conditions are in--both on the golf course itself, and on the one between the ears as they say.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Winter Desperation 2015: The Melt

It is actually happening. It is finally raining. For the first time in months, pure wet rain--not the frozen stuff. Not the freezing rain, not the sleet. Not the goddamned dreaded wintry mix.

On top of that the days are getting longer and the sun's peaking higher in the sky. The more steeply the sun's rays are angled, I have read, the more heat is transferred to the surface of the planet. Come March, those angles get steep enough to result in a daily net heat gain, thus rapidly accelerating the rate of snow melt. I was not aware of that.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter Desperation 2015, volume 2

Winter has set in. Deep within, even though it's now March. In my mind's eye I can no longer conjure up visions of golf, as it is played on a golf course. I can't do it. The memory is just too distant. At bedtime, in those fleeting moments between waking and sleeping I might receive a faint glimpse of a golf memory from the past, but it's hazy and short-lived.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wintergolf essential: vacuum flask

If you come here on the regular, you might have noticed that over the last couple seasons I've been growing fond of that great winter sport known as golf. Winter golf--it's more or less just like regular golf, but there are a few key items essential to winter golf happiness. One of these is the stainless steel vacuum flask.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winter Desperation 2015, volume 1

Now that the positive vibes from my good play at the end of the season have completely evaporated, I'm forced to face the truth. This is, and will continue to be for some time, a bleak winter season for golfers.

I feel eons removed from my last round; the next round lies beyond the foreseeable future. Where does that leave me?

I feel like a tiny dot in the middle of a blank white page.

When you are midstream, there's nothing to do but try to keep moving forward and hope to reach the other side. Let's not pussy around this thing: desperation has set in. I know not how many days have passed since I played golf; don't even want to check.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Closing Time, part III: End

I tried to maintain a state of stoic denial as long as I could. I thought I would time-shift my last days of 2014-15 Wintergolf, spreading the posts out in a vain attempt to savor the final good vibes of the season. And so here it ends, most unceremoniously.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Closing Time, part 2

Hovering around 40º, it's another great day for some wintergolf and another great opportunity to squeeze in some more golf before The End arrives. I'll concede that it's pretty cold out here, but goddammit every round in these precarious times is a gift. The course is still very soggy (despite the underlying permafrost) so I wasn't allowed to cart-ride today even though I'd prepaid for one. This place has been good to me, and the deals are usually pretty good so I am going let it slide.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Closing Time, part I

It's been a stupendous season of winter golf, better than one could hope for. But with a few inches of snow heading our way, the writing is on the wall. Fun time will be over soon. The coldest month of them all is just around the corner. Once snow blankets the ground, there'll be no recovering. Not in the short term. It could be two months before we tee off again--an unthinkable length of time in golf terms.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


A few days ago we got some rain, which I had thought would've been enough to melt away the couple of inches of snow cover. Trouble is it's been very cold and the ground is frozen, so even a full day's worth of steady drizzle was not enough to clean up the entire mess.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Roadgolf: Black Bear GC, Franklin NJ

Black Bear is one of the six courses in the Crystal Springs mega-resort/recreational fun zone in northern New Jersey. Conveniently located about an hour northwest of the city, and also featuring a decent ski resort, this place is starting to feel like a regular haunt for us. And why not? It's quiet, sparsely populated, moderately scenic and there's plenty to do. Drive away from the city for one hour in any other direction, you're not gonna beat what Sussex County has to offer.